Restructuring at SCPR cuts 21 positions amid budget shortfall

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Courtesy of Southern California Public Radio

Southern California Public Radio announced Tuesday that it is eliminating 21 positions amid a restructuring and budget shortfall.

A SCPR spokesperson told Current in a statement that the Pasadena station is restructuring “to deliver on our cross-platform, public service mission while ensuring a sustainable business model for an increasingly digital future. … We are reallocating resources to prioritize our digital offerings and capabilities, enabling us to attract and serve a growing, loyal audience.”

Southern California Public Radio CEO Herb Scannell

CEO Herb Scannell told staff Tuesday in an email obtained by Current that while the organization has “managed to reduce spending and mitigate costs in the past year, that approach is no longer feasible in the new fiscal year.”

He told SCPR’s LAist that the cuts focused on producers, technicians and administrative staff. The station is also ending some short-term podcasts, he said. 

But SCPR will expand its investigative podcast Imperfect Paradise and hire at least seven reporting and internal data analyst positions for LAist in the coming year, Scannell said.  

Scannell said ad revenue had fallen by “a couple of million dollars.” He attributed the shortfall to “a cloud of [possible] recession hanging over” the economy, as well as the Writers Guild of America strike, which is impacting Hollywood studios that spend on advertising.

Underwriting revenue accounted for more than 22% of SCPR’s revenue in fiscal year 2022, according to an audit. That income had decreased by 7% from FY19, to about $9.6 million in FY22, according to audits. 

Staffers who announced that they were laid off included Senior Producer Michael Cosentino,  editors Mike Roe and Jessica Ogilvie, and Megan Tan and Erick Galindo, hosts of the podcast WILD.

In a tweet, the station’s union called the news “profoundly disheartening and outraging.” It said it wasn’t given advance notice about the layoffs. 

“Under our contract, LAist management could have worked with the unit to offer buyouts before eliminating journalists’ jobs, but chose instead to act unilaterally,” the union tweeted. 

Jill Replogle, a reporter and union steward, questioned the cuts on Twitter. “Bolstering online reporting by laying off the heart of our digital team doesn’t make a lot of sense to me,” she said. 

The layoffs affected nine unit members, Replogle told Current.

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